18 April 2009


Various parts of the subcontinent follow different almanac. The eleventh day after the full moon is called Ekadasi. It comes twice a month. In all the almanac this day is considered very auspicious. People fast from food and perform not other economic activity on this day.

According to the Purana's (corollary Vedic texts written by Srila Vyasadev who is the compiler of Vedas) once there was a demon called Mura. He was very strong and had subjugated the entire universe including the upper and lower planets under his evil and powerful rule. One should note here that according to Srimad Bhagavatam, this particular universe we are in has totally seven planetary systems. The earth planet is in the middle.

The head of the demigods, Indra along with his associates from the upper planetary system appealed to Lord Vishnu to protect them from this evil demon who has snatched away their kingdom. Lord Vishnu, who is the saviour of His devotees came to fight the demon and their fight lasted for many thousand celestial years.

During the fight Lord Vishnu chose to rest for some time in a cave and reclined to it. However the demon saw this as a good opportunity to attack and kill his enemy. Meanwhile the bodily effulgence of reclining Lord Vishnu took the form of a beautiful lady called Ekadasi and fought with Mura. She defeated and killed the demon. Upon waking the Lord was very pleased with what Ekadasi had achieved. So He granted her a boon that every eleventh day after the full moon would be known by her name and that anyone who does devotion to Lord Vishnu on that day would derive manifold benefits than on other days.

Hence the Vaishnavas, worshipper of Lord Vishnu observe this day as very special and they spend the whole day in complete remembrance of the Supreme by chanting His holy name, doing bajans, reading holy scripture and associating with like minded people. They fast on this day to lessen the time spent of bodily needs and also to get the mellow mood of worship which is conducive in a not-so robust body. They fast particularly from grains. It is believed that the Sin personified appealed to the Lord for shelter as on Ekadasi everything is so pure. The Lord gave place in the grains. Hence the Vaishnavas stay away from grains on this day. Some fast on fruit diet, some take only milk, some take only water and there are some who take 'nirjala' fasting which means not even water. This is an amazing austerity that they take for their spiritual benefit.

However Ayurveda also recommends fasting with fruit diet at least once in fifteen days for detoxifying the body. Habits of the yore are, no doubt, well thought out processes that helps in overall health and well being. Good to know about them.

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